The US Senate failed to approve the USA Freedom Act Sunday, meaning the temporary expiration of the National Security Agency’s ability to collect vast amounts of information on US telephone communications.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allowed the government to collect bulk phone data, expired June 1 with the Senate unwilling to extend the provision, nor approve the USA Freedom Act, a replacement to Section 215 of the Patriot Act that would effectively curtail the program’s controversial practices.
Sen. Rand Paul led the objection to the USA Freedom Act on Sunday, and was able to delay a vote on the USA Freedom Act to Tuesday.
Related provisions that also expired June 1 include the “Lone Wolf provision” which allows the government to use FISA for surveillance of a non-US person who has no known ties to a suspicious group or entity, as well as the “roving wiretap” provision that allows authorities to continue to tap a subject’s phone even if they change phones.
Online civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation supports the new USA Freedom Act overall, given that it would bring an end the government’s “Collect It All” approach to surveillance, yet the EFF notes that it makes too many compromises on privacy and doesn’t go far enough to limit mass surveillance.
Weeks ago, the NSA began dismantling its bulk phone data collection operation in anticipation of Section 215’s expiration.